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World Water Day: Understanding Water Risk

It’s rare for water to make waves at the World Economic Forum’s annual gathering of business leaders and finance ministers.

But the most recent Davos summit was an exception. A new eye-opening report ranked water supply among the top five global risks in terms of impact– on par with systemic financial failure and fiscal imbalances.

As we mark World Water Day, the alarming statistics underlying water scarcity are worth repeating. Worldwide 2.7 billion people are currently affected by water shortages. As the global population races toward 8 billion and beyond, upward trends in food demand and economic growth promise to further strain freshwater resources, especially in the developing world. Climate change, of course, is exacerbating these water challenges.

Bringing Ecosystem Markets to Scale in the Southern United States

For the most part, Ecosystem Markets still linger in the early stages of development. There is much more theoretical work to be done to set up environmental credit markets, including carbon offsets and payments for watershed services. But more pilot projects can also help these markets evolve and show how they might work in the real world.

Development pressures in the U.S. South often mean that forests are worth more cut down than left standing. In the U.S. South alone, the U.S. Forest Service estimates that suburban encroachment will convert approximately 31 million acres (approximately 14 percent of 2010 southern forest area) of southern forests to development between 1992 and 2040.

Big Business on the Sustainability Offensive

This piece originally appeared in Ethical Corporation.

There is a growing trend for big companies to use sustainable concepts as core business drivers

For decades, many companies have typically responded to sustainability challenges by pursuing incremental operational improvements. But we are beginning to see an interesting new trend – businesses using sustainability as a tactic for long-term offense, rather than just short-term defence.

Despite the uncertain economic outlook, leading international companies across diverse sectors are investing heavily in sustainable products and services. Others are making cross-industry partnerships to develop next generation products such as the elusive mass market electric car.

Some are even enhancing their business models through mergers and acquisitions that seek to address, and capitalise on, sustainability trends.

Aqueduct Brings Improved Water Risk Framework to World Water Forum

We are only a few days away from the world’s largest meeting around water: the World Water Forum. The Forum will take place this month in Marseille, France, with some 24,000 participants from the private and public sectors around the globe. There will be roughly 250 sessions and panels and 100 grassroots and citizenship events over six days. These events, and the audience of decision makers and experts attending them, provide an ideal context to showcase pioneering developments and solutions around water.

Payments for Watershed Services: Pilot Projects for Watershed Protection

Forested watersheds of the southern United States provide numerous services to the region. At no cost, they purify water, control flooding and erosion, and provide places for people to relax and have fun. Yet despite their value, many watersheds are under threat from development and poor land management.

“Payments for Watershed Services” (PWS) programs are one strategy to keep watersheds healthy. Through a PWS program, landowners receive financial incentives to conserve, sustainably manage, and/or restore watersheds to yield the kinds of benefits described above.

Aqueduct News Roundup: The Importance of Water Data, and the Hidden Prices of Water Management

The stories in this month’s Aqueduct News Roundup are focused on two central themes. The first theme is the importance of data in water management: February saw the introduction of compelling new data sets, as well as water users in the private and public sectors coming to grips with the importance (and difficulty) of acquiring good water data. The second theme is cost: several stories emerged in February that demonstrated the sometimes staggering price tags associated with water for governments and companies alike.

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